Wafer-level encapsulated high-performance mems tunable passives and bandpass filters
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This dissertation reports, for the first time, on the design and implementation of tunable micromachined bandpass filters in the ultra high frequency (UHF) range that are fully integrated on CMOS-grade (resistivity=10-20 ohm.cm) silicon. Filters, which are designed in the Elliptic and coupled-resonator configuration, are electrostatically tuned using tunable microelectromechanical (MEM) capacitors with laterally movable interdigitated fingers. Tunable filters and high-quality factor (Q) integrated passives are made in silver (Ag), which has the highest conductivity of all materials in nature, to reduce the ohmic loss. The loss of the silicon substrate is eliminated by using micromachining techniques. The combination of the highest-conductivity metal and a low-loss substrate significantly improves the performance of lumped components at radio frequencies (RF), resulting in an insertion loss of 6 dB for a tunable lumped bandpass filter at 1075 MHz with a 3 dB-bandwidth of 63 MHz and tuning range of 123 MHz. The bandpass filters are encapsulated at the wafer level using a low-temperature, thermally released, polymer packaging process. This thesis details the design, fabrication, and measurement results of the filters and provides strategies to improve their performance. The performance of filter components, including the tunable capacitors and inductors, is characterized and compared to the state-of-the-art micromachined passive components. The silver inductors reported in this thesis exhibit the record high Q, and the silver bandpass filters show the minimum insertion loss that has been achieved on a CMOS-grade silicon substrate, to the best of our knowledge. Alternatively, tunable capacitors can be made in the bulk of silicon using a modified version of the high-aspect-ratio polysilicon and single crystal silicon (HARPSS) fabrication technique to obtain a larger capacitance density at the expense of a higher conductive loss. Using this process, a 15 pF two-port tunable capacitor is fabricated and tuned by 240% with the application of 3.5 V to the isolated actuator. Silver inductors can be post integrated with HARPSS tunable capacitors to obtain tunable filters in the very high frequency (VHF) range. The reported bandpass filters can be monolithically integrated with CMOS and have the potential to replace several transmit and receive acoustic filters currently used in cellular phones.